The Creating Hope Project from Seeds of Hope has two major components: the “Writing to End Hunger” workshop and the “Theatre of the Oppressed” workshop.
Writing to End Hunger
The Seeds “Writing to End Hunger” workshop has taken many incarnations. The first was a children’s day camp at a Baptist church in Waco, TX, (where Seeds is based) in which children visited, every day, agencies that work to get food to hungry people. The children came back from their field trips and wrote stories about the agencies, about the people they met, and about their impressions of the work. They drew pictures and took photos. At the end of the week, we had enough material for a newsletter, called Hungry for Hope, which was printed and presented to the church.
Two more recent incarnations were at the Baylor University Freedom School, a summer program in Waco, TX, for low-income youth who are at risk for doing poorly in school. In 2018, we worked with elementary and middle-school students to create a newsletter about hunger in the Waco area, this time called Freedom School Press. In 2019, we worked with homeless high-school students who were employed at the Freedom School as junior instructors. This group named their newsletter The Outcast Project: The Secret Lives of Homeless Youth.
Also in 2019, a Seeds team traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia, to conduct the same workshop. These participants came from an interfaith group of high-school and college students. Their newsletter, which they named The Hunger Journal, includes interviews with guests and volunteers at a soup kitchen in the town of Gori—as well as background information about how so many people became displaced in that area.
This workshop is led by Katie Cook, who has been the Seeds of Hope editor since 1991. In addition to editing the Seeds publications Hunger News & Hope and Sacred Seasons, Katie also leads a Hunger in God’s World workshop for church groups and seminary classes.
The “Theatre of the Oppressed” Applied Theatre Workshop
In 2019, the “Writing to End Hunger Workshop” was joined by a “Theatre of the Oppressed” workshop. The “Theatre of the Oppressed” concept was developed by Brazilian theatre director Augusto Boal during the 1950s and 1960s. In an effort to transform theatre from the “monologue” of traditional performance into a “dialogue” between audience and stage, Boal experimented with many kinds of interactive theatre.
Boal’s explorations were based on the assumption that dialogue is the common, healthy dynamic between all humans, that all human beings desire and are capable of dialogue, and that when a dialogue becomes a monologue, oppression ensues. With this in mind, theatre then becomes an extraordinary tool for transforming monologue into dialogue. “While some people make theatre,” says Boal, “we all are theatre.”
The Seeds “Theatre of the Oppressed” workshop includes exploring the games and techniques of August Boal. Participants learn through these activities about themselves and their community, looking for ways that art and theatre can inform our experience and challenge our perceptions. One of the activities is constructing a Brave Space where participants can address social identities and faith expressions, while devising a piece of theatre reflecting these encounters.
This workshop is conducted by Guilherme Feitosa de Almeida, a senior lecturer in musical theatre at Baylor University. A native of Brazil, Guilherme specializes in liturgy that promotes liberation theology.
Writing to End Hunger—Katie Cook, firstname.lastname@example.org
Theatre of the Oppressed—Guilherme Almeida, email@example.com